Administration of Public Welfare

By R. Clyde White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXV
REPORTING TO THE PUBLIC

Until recent years public welfare agencies have been inclined to limit their public reporting to a few official reports. Little attention was paid to format, type, arrangement of material, and pictures in these reports. Private social agencies have done a more workmanlike job of public reporting than have the public agencies. Obviously the private agencies had to solve this problem in order to secure sufficient support to exist and to carry on the relatively expensive, highgrade work which some of them undertook. To raise funds the private agencies had to do something which had inherent and often dramatic human interest, and had to discover ways of making their services just as real to the public as they were to the social workers and board members. It is reasonable to assume that this necessity of "putting the best foot forward" reacted upon the agency to improve the quality of its work in order to have something still better to report to the public. Whatever the explanation of the differences between public and private reporting may be, it is a fact that prior to 1933 public reporting by public welfare agencies was in general the work of well-meaning amateurs. There were notable exceptions, such as some of the reporting of the United States Children's Bureau and a few state institutions. The quality of the reporting was strikingly on a par with the quality of work done by the agency. Good work, good reporting; poor work, poor reporting.

The significance of the relation between good reporting and good work deserves further exploration. The problems with which the agency deals may be reported. For example, the number of applications for assistance, the number of new cases plus old cases, and the number of cases closed may be included. This is the kind of reporting which is carried in official, annual reports, and in the case of poor-law agencies little else is attempted except to state total expenditures for the report period. A private-family welfare agency,

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